When we study the Scripture, we often find ourselves holding to certain truths that seem self-evident, but at the same time raise more questions that seem impossible to answer. The post-modern mind must understand that the Christian claim that humanity can know truth does not preclude the possibility of imperfect and incomplete knowledge. In seeking to understand the limits and power of Man’s knowledge, the figure below is of great value. Here we find two sets of contrasting values that together provide for us a grid inside of which we can better understand the knowledge we possess.
The boxes on the top row indicate the two kinds of knowledge which come from and lead to deception; Incomplete False Knowledge and Complete False Knowledge. Let me illustrate each idea. Let us assume that the dictionary represents all knowledge about the topic of language. Given this premise, Incomplete False Knowledge, describes any kind of knowledge that is false and for which there are still many unknowns. For example, a person who memorizes only one entry from the dictionary, but does not memorize it correctly. Complete False Knowledge, describes any kind of knowledge that is false and holds no degree of uncertainty. For example, a person who memorizes the entire dictionary, but memorizing every definition incorrectly.
In contrast to the above, the boxes in the lower row indicate the two kinds of knowledge which come from Divine revelation: Incomplete True Knowledge and Complete True Knowledge. Again, let us assume for the sake of example that the dictionary represents the fullness of all knowledge about language. Incomplete True Knowledge, then, describes any kind of knowledge that is true but may also have certain areas of doubt. For example, a person who properly memorizes one entry from the dictionary, but not all entries. Complete True Knowledge describes any kind of knowledge that is true and holds no degree of uncertainty. For example, a person who memorizes every entry in the dictionary without exception and without error.
A Kingdom worldview acknowledges that only the Creator-God has Complete and True Knowledge, but as we seek after him, we can in this life attain Incomplete True Knowledge. Only with this hope, can the individual find purpose and unity in the seeming chaos of existence.
In this episode of the 10 Minute Teacher, Dr. Joe Miller surveys 15 Movements and Leaders who shaped the Theological Family Tree of Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
This video covers the Reformed Sealers, Wesleyan Perfectionism, Wesleyan-Holiness, Oberlin-Holiness, the Higher/Deeper Life Movement, The Keswick Movement, Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Charles Parham, William Seymour, Pentecostal-Holiness, Baptistic-Pentecostal, Oneness-Pentecostal, and Neo-Pentecostal (or Charismatic).
This is one in a series of educational videos from the 10 Minute Teacher on the Theology of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Sanctification, and the historical develop of Spirit Baptism. This college and seminary level Video Curriculum is freely available for use in for both online and in-class applications of Flipped Theology. Watch more here on More Than Cake or on the Holy Spirit YouTube Playlist
Late last year I was working a booth at a conference in Los Angeles, CA for a popular Christian pastor. A man, lets call him Tim, came to my table and noticed a book written by another famous pastor. Tim turned to the stranger next to him, pointed toward the book, and with great pride exclaimed, “That is my pastor.” The man either did not hear Tim or chose to ignore him, so this time Tim picked up the book and said, “That man is my pastor.” The other guy walked off—Tim was clearly hoping the man would be more impressed.
Tim turned to me, a captive audience at the booth, and proclaimed, “That man is my pastor.”
Tim’s “pastor” leads a popular church in Seattle and since I had recently moved from that area, I was interested to know if we had some friends in common, so I asked, “Oh, so you are from Seattle? What brings you to LA?”
Tim’s answer surprised me, “No,” he said, “I live here in LA.”
Now I was intrigued. How could Pastor X, be Tim’s pastor if he lived 1,200 miles away? So I asked, “Did you recently move here from Seattle?”
“No.” Tim replied, “my church meets in my house and we watch Pastor X’s sermon every week on DVD.”
I immediately felt a twinge of sorrow—sorrow for Tim and sorrow for the Church and what She has become. Pastor X may be an engaging Bible teacher, but he certainly has not taught his followers a biblical definition of what it means to be a Pastor of God’s people. Read the Pastoral Epistles from the Apostle Paul, a pastor is a not a talking-head who ‘phone’s it in’ via DVD. A pastor is someone with a gifting from the Holy Spirit to be a shepherd, a caretaker, a guardian, a servant, and a lover of God’s people.
It is impossible for a anyone to be “my pastor” via DVD or multi-site video. He may inspire, educate, or even motivate, but he is not fulfilling the biblical role of pastor in my life or yours. Sadly, it did not matter to Tim that Pastor X wasn’t really living out the biblical role of “my pastor.” Rather, what mattered most to Tim was that he had a claim to fame through his Paparazzi Pastor.
Much has been said in recent years about the rise of so-called “celebrity pastors” within Christianity, particularly within evangelicalism. Just mention names like Ted Haggard, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, John Piper, Francis Chan, Bill Hybels and Joyce Meyer, and you’re guaranteed to get a fair share of impassioned praise or heated criticism.
Rachel goes on to share four ways in which the church has been overtaken by the celebrity-pastor. Let me share an excerpt from each of her main points and then I will add two of my own.
We make celebrity pastors when we believe they can do no right or do no wrong.
Everyone has Christian friends who speak about their favorite pastors with the same reverence and awe generally reserved for Jesus or Apple products. These folks hang on every word the pastor writes, preaches or tweets, and can seem incapable of forming opinions of their own without first consulting the person behind the pulpit. This reveals an unhealthy dependency that elevates celebrity pastors to near idols.
We make celebrity pastors when we become their disciples rather than Christ’s.
When Christians look to pastors for wisdom on how to better love God and love one another, they become better disciples of Jesus and better lights of hope in a dark world.
When Christians look to pastors to tell them how to dress, what to eat, what hobbies to have, what systematic theologies to prefer, how to vote and what personality to adopt, they become creepy, unthinking clones of broken people—and big red warning flags to a culture that has grown increasingly suspicious of authority figures.
We make celebrity pastors when we measure success by numbers.
It has become popular for pastors and their followers to imitate the world by bragging about “fruitfulness” in terms of numbers…
But neither Jesus nor His earliest followers ever taught that fruitfulness should be measured in numbers. In fact, like many who labor for Christ around the world today, most of the early disciples were dismissed, marginalized, imprisoned or killed. Rather than attracting big-shot Roman officials and important Jewish scholars, the earliest churches were overwhelmed with the poor, women, widows and slaves. That is because Jesus established an upside-down kingdom, a kingdom in which the last are first and the first are last, a kingdom in which the poor, the meek, the humble and the downtrodden are blessed, while the rich, powerful and elite often walk away scratching their heads.
We make celebrity pastors when we think we need them.
Paul concludes his instructions regarding celebrity apostles by saying: “So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:21).
In addition to Rachel’s thoughtful post, I see two other areas where the Paparazzi Pastor and celebrity culture have overtaken the church.
We Make Paparazzi Pastors When The Pulpit Is Used For Profit
When a pastor turns to his Book Agent for ideas on his next big preaching series, the celebrity culture has won the day. At some point, the tail wags the dog, and teaching becomes a mere means to popularity and profit, but profit is not the purpose for the pulpit.
We Make Paparazzi Pastors When PR Agents Become Their Accountability
I read in the news yesterday that Pastor X hired a Public Relations Agent. When a Paparazzi Pastor takes the tithes of the people and, instead of helping the needy, he hires a PR agent to manage his public image, you know that the celebrity culture has overtaken the church.
What Can We Do?
Reformation begins with discernment. We need pictures of faith in action to contrast against PR machines in motion.
Check out this video which inspires me and makes me long for a day when the Church will stop consuming the Paparazzi pablum. and embrace humble servants within the local church who teach, practice their faith, and share their lives with the people.
In his book, “Ancient Future Faith” Robert Webber examines the crucial connection between faith and worldview. Webber outlines the major periods of Western thought and how each age has impacted the Christian’s ability to live out Faith with integrity.
“It is now common to think in terms of six discernible paradigms of time that can be traced in the complex history of the Western church. While these divisions are somewhat artificial because history does not change abruptly, we can nevertheless speak convincingly of the following periods of Western thought: primitive Christianity (the first century); the common era, with the emergence of classical Christianity (100–600); the medieval era, with the formation of a distinct Roman Christianity (600–1500); the explosion of the Reformation and the growth of Protestantism (1500–1750); the modern era, with the growth of denominations (1750–1980): and the postmodern period now emerging (1980– ).
In each of these periods of history, Christianity wrestled with unique sets of philosophical, scientific, and cultural factors. Throughout history Christians have always struggled to incarnate the faith in each particular culture. Consequently, a style of Christianity successful in one era changes as another era begins.” (Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith : Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 13.)
Faith plays a role in every worldview. Understanding faith’s role in each system of thought is essential if hope to communicate the Gospel across cultural and philosophic boundaries. The Kingdom worldview is unique in its ability to integrates reason and meaning so that faith is not devoid of a scientific, historical, or moral foundation. The figure below shows how faith is treated in each system of thought.
Faith has a role in each philosophy, but is limited by the foundation upon which it is built. Most significantly, the Kingdom worldview is rooted in the relationship of Divine Trinity and thus is the only system that allows us to truly create and maintain meaningful community.